What it Takes to be an Elite Group Fitness Instructor

On the first day of the group fitness instructor’s class I took at InfoFit in Vancouver in June 2019, my instructor said, “There are many mediocre instructors, but the elite instructors are the ones who are very busy and well sought after.” 

Teaching fitness is a lot of fun, you get paid to work out, but if you want to be the best, then you have to put the work into it. He then posed the following question to us: “You have to decide: do you want to be a mediocre instructor, or do you want to be an elite instructor?”

Even though I haven’t been teaching fitness classes since the COVID lockdowns began, I still keep this in the back of my mind because, at some point in the future, I’d like to get back into teaching fitness classes.

So, what differentiates an elite group fitness class instructor from a mediocre one? An elite group fitness class instructor does the following:

1.   She makes every participant feel welcome, regardless of that person’s fitness level.

2.  Creates an environment that is positive, inclusive, and promotes team-spirit. Instructors who set realistic, relevant goals for all participants and encourages them to work towards achieving those goals as a group, enhances participant adherence as well as enjoyment.

3.  Provides progressions and regressions of every exercise to accommodate participants of all fitness levels and encourages them to listen to their bodies.

4.  Puts participants first and isn’t simply getting paid to do his or her own work outs.

5.  Offers corrective feedback whenever necessary, but does so without singling out a participant and always follows up with a word of encouragement.

6.  Is well prepared, on time (or, if possible, at least a half an hour early for set-up), and enthusiastic.

7.  Doesn’t gossip about other instructors, leaves all personal problems outside of the classroom, and doesn’t choose favourites.

8.  Dresses appropriately and never wears clothing that is too revealing (like those short-shorts or low-cut sports bras), too baggy, or dirty.

9.  Uses music that is motivating and appropriate for the type of fitness class being taught, but not jacked up to a level where the instructor has to yell in order to be heard.

10. Checks all equipment that’s being used and removes any equipment that may be defective.

11. Always has a back-up plan just in case things go wrong. For example: the power goes out during or before class, the sound system doesn’t work, or it rains on the scheduled day of an outdoor boot camp.

Teaching fitness classes can be a heck of a lot of fun, but with it comes much preparation and experience.

So, in answer to my instructor’s question: ‘Do you want to be a mediocre instructor or an elite instructor?’ I most definitely want to be an elite group fitness class instructor. That’s because I’m passionate about health and fitness, but also because I firmly believe that everyone has a right to participate in a fitness program of their choice and feel like they belong. 

I want to motivate and inspire others to enjoy physical activity (both inside and outside of the gym) and perceive their fitness goals as a lifelong journey of maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle as opposed to just simply getting a toned and leaner body. I also want people to see exercise as means to learn new skills, forge new friendships, alleviate stress, and to just have fun.

An individual’s personal satisfaction and level of enjoyment with my future exercise programs will be well worth the effort I put into it.

 

Online Workouts Versus the Gym: Pros and Cons

Nowadays there are so many types of exercise programs that are designed to meet every person’s need and lifestyle. With the continual advancement of technology, you don’t have to frequent the gym: You can work out from the comfort of your own home in your spare time. Both options can be rewarding and will enable you to achieve your fitness goals if you stick with one or both options and are consistent. Though, like with anything, there are pros and cons to both.

The Gym

Pros

–  Most gyms offer a variety of fitness classes, like Yoga, Zumba, Kickboxing, HIIT boot camps, and others which gives you more to choose from if you don’t want to run on the treadmill or lift weights.

– You meet other people at a gym, which opens up doors of opportunity to forging new friendships.

– You have a chance to train with an instructor or personal trainer who will offer encouragement and help ensure that you perform every exercise safely and effectively with the right posture and technique.

Cons

– Gym memberships are often expensive and so they are only worth it if you are firmly committed to a program more than once or twice a week.

– Fitness classes or allotted discount hours at a gym may not fit your schedule if you have young children or are a busy working professional.

– Weight machines and treadmills can get boring after a while, especially if you have no workout buddy.

Online Workouts

Pros

– There are a wide variety of online programs and apps that you can subscribe to or download onto your tablet or phone.

– Online workout programs are more affordable than a regular gym membership. Some fitness pros even streamline a variety of their workouts on YouTube for no cost.

– You can work out anytime and anywhere, an ideal option if you’re a stay-at-home mom or if you live in a remote area where there are no gyms nearby.

– You have the opportunity to connect with personal trainers and other fitness enthusiasts around the world.

Cons

– It can be hard to motivate yourself to tune in and work out, especially if you’re by yourself or feeling exhausted after a long day at work.

– We all know that technology is finicky. It doesn’t always work when we want it to work. The WiFi where you live may not work properly or not at all for whatever reason. You can get yourself moving and do all the exercises without access to your program, but it’s even better when you’re doing it while watching an instructor over a streamlined video.

– Working out at home can be lonely.

– There is no instructor present to give you feedback on your posture and biomechanics. You can watch the instructor demonstrate each exercise, but you’re ultimately teaching yourself how to do each exercise. To perform a set of exercises with proper form and technique can take longer to achieve when you’re attempting to perfect it via an online workout program than it would if you were doing that same workout program at a local gym.

When it comes to exercise — as with anything — we all have our preferences. Keep in mind that your pros may be someone else’s cons. Bottom line: Do whatever workout you enjoy doing and that best suits your lifestyle whether it’s at home or at a gym.

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